Film of the Day: THE HUSTLER (1961)

HOW CAN I LOSE?

 

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Starring Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, Jackie Gleason and George C. Scott. Directed and written by Robert Rossen, who also wrote the screenplay for James Cagney’s Roaring Twenties (1939) and the Technicolor epic, Alexander the Great, starring Richard Burton (1956). Nominated for 7 Oscars (including Best Actor and Actress and Best Supporting Actor x2, Best Picture and Best Director).

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Fast Eddie Felson is a sharp customer; a pool shark hungry to take on anyone foolish enough to fall for his disingenuous, booze-soaked shruggery: the old ‘I don’t know much about pool, but what the hell, I’ll give it a whirl’ trick (‘and whilst we’re at it, throw in your car and you’ve got yourself a game’). Fast Eddie sure is sharp. But he’s cocky and hungry to prove he’s the greatest player around, and to this end has travelled across the country to challenge the great Minnesota Fats. Eddie plays well against Fats, in fact, he pretty much wipes the table with him. But then, with booze and bragging, he throws it all away…

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MINNESOTA FATS: DO YOU LIKE TO GAMBLE, EDDIE? GAMBLE MONEY ON POOL GAMES?

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FAST EDDIE: I’M THE BEST YOU’VE EVER SEEN, FATS. I’M THE BEST THERE IS. AND EVEN IF YOU BEAT ME, I’M STILL THE BEST.

Eddie meets Sarah, a melancholy soul with a twisted foot and a thirst for booze…

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SARAH: HOW DID YOU KNOW MY NAME WAS SARAH?

FAST EDDIE: YOU TOLD ME.

SARAH: I LIE. WHEN I’M DRUNK, I LIE.

FAST EDDIE: OKAY, SO WHAT’S YOUR NAME TODAY?

SARAH: SARAH.

Then Eddie meets Bert Gordon. Or, rather, Bert sniffs Eddie out, determined to get in on his action as agent and manager. But he has to stick the knife in and twist; stick it into Eddie; stick it into Sarah: Eddie’s no good, Bert says. Eddie’s a born loser, Bert says. And Sarah is perverted, twisted and crippled…

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GORDON: EDDIE, YOU’RE A BORN LOSER.
EDDIE: WHAT’S THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?
GORDON: FIRST TIME IN TEN YEARS I EVER SAW MINNESOTA FATS HOOKED, REALLY HOOKED. BUT YOU LET HIM OFF.
EDDIE: I TOLD YOU, I GOT DRUNK.
GORDON: SURE YOU GOT DRUNK, THE BEST EXCUSE IN THE WORLD FOR LOSIN’. NO TROUBLE LOSIN’ WHEN YOU GOT A GOOD EXCUSE. AND WINNING – THAT CAN BE HEAVY ON YOUR BACK TOO, LIKE A MONKEY. DROP THAT LOAD TOO WHEN YOU GOT AN EXCUSE. ALL YOU GOTTA DO IS LEARN TO FEEL SORRY FOR YOURSELF. THAT’S ONE OF THE BEST INDOOR SPORTS, FEELIN’ SORRY FOR YOURSELF. A SPORT ENJOYED BY ALL – ESPECIALLY THE BORN LOSER.

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SARAH: DOESN’T ALL OF THIS COME THROUGH TO YOU, EDDIE? DOESN’T ANY OF THIS MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU? THAT MAN, THIS PLACE, THE PEOPLE. THEY WEAR MASKS, EDDIE AND UNDERNEATH THE MASKED THEY’RE PERVERTED, TWISTED, CRIPPLED…

EDDIE: SHUT UP!

SARAH: DON’T WEAR A MASK, EDDIE. YOU DON’T HAVE TO.

Bert, the creep, breaks bones and breaks hearts and with twisted and crippled Sarah gone, Eddie plays Minnesota Fats one last time for her…

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FAST EDDIE:

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TRIVIA: Boxing champ, Jake LaMotta – subject of Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull (1980) – has a cameo performance as a bartender.

And catch Paul Newman reprising the role of Fast Eddie in Scorsese’s The Colour of Money (1986), starring Tom Cruise.

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posted by Dixie Turner

 

RECENT ADDITIONS

Not only do we have brand new films for you every week, but we also have golden oldies, and not so oldies newly added to our collection – things either previously unavailable or films we deliberately kept from you in an attempt to control your film knowledge, thereby forcing you to come to us to ask questions like: What was that 1977 film with Paul Newman about a failing ice hockey team?? Answer?

SLAP SHOT

newman-slap-shotYep you say – that’s the one! Directed by George Roy Hill, who also directed Newman in The Sting (with Robert Redford) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (also with Robert Redford).

Also we hear you ask: What was that film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, where Richard Gere plays a trumpet player in a famous jazz club in Harlem?

COTTON CLUB

cotton_club_ver4_xlgIf you think Boardwalk Empire is just swell, then you should definitely check this one out – gangsters, mafia, fantastic outfits, dames and wise guys galore!

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CHECK OUT THESE – AND ALL THE REST – WITH OUR 2 FOR 1 WEDNESDAY OFFER…

Made me Happy

Video City Staff A-Z of Film: C is For…(pt.1)

ROB SAYS:

C is for A Canterbury Tale

This is Powell & Pressburger’s modern riff on Chaucer’s medieval stories. In one brilliant cut we’re transported from a time of men in skirts on horseback to present day men in uniform driving tanks. Meanwhile women do their jobs amongst the blackouts and boredom of a country at war.

The plot is pure hokum of the Ealing variety. A man in a soldier’s uniform has been terrorising a small village by pouring glue into the hair of local young ladies. Our three leads Alison (Sheila Sim), Peter (Dennis Price), and Bob (John Sweet) set out to solve the mystery. The real story here is the deep sorrow buried within these three and the hope that their wishes may come true in a modern-day pilgrimage to Canterbury. It’s a great film about life during wartime, about the beauty of the English countryside and rural existence. Above all it shows Powell & Pressburger’s deep love for their characters. This may be a propaganda film but there is a genuine sweetness devoid of any Hollywood cheese.

You come to expect wit and invention from Powell & Pressburger but here you also get a large dollop of unusual poetic romance and a very English cheery resilience against adversity.

See also: A Matter of Life and Death, Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

ALY SAYS:

C is for Coach Carter – (2005) directed by Thomas Carter

This film is based on a story about a High School basketball coach that tries to teach his players that there is more to life then being “ghetto hoop stars”!

Despite most of the parents, other teachers and all the players thinking his methods are a bit extreme, coach Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) continues to employ his teaching methods and the players soon learn that it’s the coaches way or they’re off the team!
A combination of sports, a true life story with a powerful message and a good cast, enough to make this one of my top choices!

JESSE SAYS:
C is for Come and See
Elem Klimov’s 1985 Come and See tells the story of a young mans coming of age in the midst of Nazi-occupied Belarus. From the outset, the film displaces its audience mixing almost farcical scenes of partisan recruitment officers with a scene of the protagonist, Florya and his friend (who sounds like he’s talking with the aid of an electrolarynx) sifting through a sandy beach searching for a discarded rifle.

As the film progresses, this initial displacement acts to unsettle us, and as we continue, and the subject matter intensifies the difficulty we’ve had in placing the film’s genre or position only unsettles us further. Coupled with the film’s intense and intricate aural and visual design – which is constantly pulling itself apart and re-intertwining – drags the audience with Florya into the madness and disorientation that enshrouds him.

Although not a graphically violent film by todays standards (only rated 15), Come and See is certainly not for the faint-hearted (for example, there’s an extremely difficult scene, where Florya and a girl he has met wade through a swamp, whilst the soundtrack bears down on us oppressively. Seemingly pushing downwards from above). This said, I have watched the film numerous times, and maybe it’s just the masochist in me, but I’ll certainly be watching it again and sharing it with all my loved ones.

Interesting review here: http://www.slowreview.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=74&Itemid=9